Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Aim : To study human fetal pancreatic tissue between 15 weeks of gestation and term, analysing the development of pancreatic lymphoid tissue and focusing on the presence and maturational status of dendritic cells (DCs). During normal human fetal pancreatic development lymphoid tissue arises in and around the pancreas. DCs are antigen-presenting cells which are capable of initiating immunity, but are also essential in inducing and maintaining T-cell tolerance.Methods and results : First, the presence and general composition of intra- and peripancreatic lymphoid tissue was investigated by histology and immunohistochemistry with antibodies to CD3, CD4, CD8, CD14, CD20, CD68, and CD79. Intrapancreatic lymphoid tissue (IPLT) appeared to be present only from 29 weeks of gestation onwards, and had a similar composition to peripancreatic lymphoid tissue (PPLT), which was found in all 23 specimens examined. Both forms of lymphoid tissue had an architecture similar to lymph nodes, with separate B- and T-lymphocyte areas and scattered macrophages. DCs were investigated in detail by immunohistochemistry for CD1a, CD83, CD86, CD123, Langerin, and DC-LAMP. Both Langerin, a marker for immature DCs, as well as DC-LAMP, a marker for mature DCs, were expressed by cells in both the IPLT and PPLT at all ages examined.Conclusion : The presence of DCs at all developmental stages, expressing various maturation-related markers, in addition to the general composition of the human fetal PPLT and IPLT suggests that this is fully functional and has a function comparable to peripheral lymph nodes.
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